It’s curious how those Republicans who preach “right to life” for the unborn are willing to make life a living hell for the newly born.
It’s bad enough that a child is born into poverty every 29 seconds in our country – not exactly a ringing endorsement of capitalism in the world’s richest nation.
But imagine what it would be like for our children if after a November election sweep, Republicans were to enact next year the budget bill they passed in the House this year (which fortunately failed in the Democrat-led Senate).
The bill authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., – the presumptive Republican vice-presidential candidate – called for slashing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the bedrock program aimed at stemming childhood and adult hunger.
His budget would cut $133.5 billion over 10 years, precisely when it’s most needed as the Great Recession shows little sign of abating.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates such cuts would force America’s poorest families to forgo as many as 8.2 billion meals a year. That’s the number of meals consumed by 7.5 million people over a year – approximately the combined population of Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.
Nearly one in seven Americans relies on SNAP to help cover the cost of their meals.
“We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people … into complacency and dependence,” Rep. Ryan – whose net worth is about $8 million – charges with pious indignation.
But it’s not for lack of trying that millions of workers cannot find a job today.
Furthermore, nearly half the households receiving supplemental nutrition assistance include children with at least one employed parent.
For children of color cutting SNAP would result in a triple whammy.
Out of 16.4 million poor children in 2010 in our country, 12.4 percent were white, but 39.1 percent were black and 35 percent were Latino, according to the recently released “The State of America’s Children 2012 Handbook,” a project of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Although the handbook failed to cite figures for other ethnic groupings, anecdotal evidence tells us poverty levels among Native Americans and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders would likely be comparable to those cited for blacks and Latinos.
The disproportionate impact cutting nutrition assistance would have on people of color, and Ryan’s choice of code words and imagery, can only lead one to characterize such policies as racist.
And what’s Rep. Ryan’s plan to get us out of our complacency, dependence and economic doldrums?
He proposes “as one of our hallmark issues to get to economic growth and job creation, to reform the tax system.”
The Republican House budget cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans in part by slashing domestic programs like SNAP.
But when the economic crisis first hit with full force, during former President George W. Bush’s tenure, corporations and the rich already enjoyed the lowest tax rates in history.
Cutting SNAP would mean poor families having less money to spend on food, reducing grocery sales and killing jobs.
Ryan’s budget would kill 184,000 jobs, CAP said, basing its conclusions on its report “The Economic Consequences of Cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”
So much for the claims of Republican politicians, and the corporations they represent, that they are job creators.
“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” Ryan brags. Among bills he co-sponsored, two are particularly noteworthy.
One would ban abortion care in almost all cases, including rape or incest.
The other would refuse to provide emergency abortion to save the woman’s life.
Under different circumstances this would make a person an accessory to premeditated murder. Apparently, a woman’s life means nothing to Ryan.
But then, Ryan says he does care about the “right to life” of the fetus in the mother’s womb.
So let’s take a closer look.
Ryan’s budget would cut $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, the government health insurance program primarily serving low-income people, most of whom are children and their mothers.
The cuts would reduce vital prenatal care to low-income pregnant women and make it hard to provide basic checkups for all children in low-income families.
Some 14 million children, women, seniors and others in need would be dropped from the program, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Another 11 million people would be dropped from Medicaid under the Romney-Ryan plan to repeal health care reform.
This is clear evidence that Ryan and his running mate Romney do not have the best interests of children and women in mind.
If a measure of a society’s worth is how it treats its children, then capitalism in America is failing our children miserably.
The drive for maximum private corporate profit is behind this. But that’s the subject of a different opinion piece.
For now, we must conclude that voters must defeat the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket and keep Republicans from gaining majorities in both houses of Congress.
Any hope to shift political momentum in favor of our nation’s children and those yet to be born lies in a resounding defeat for Republicans in November.
Nothing less will do.
Photo: Creative Commons 3.0